The actress's latest film The Five-Year Engagement, is out today. We talk to her about her rise to fame and the new films Blunt is working on.
Emily Blunt is at the top of her acting game
Emily Blunt is feeling a little homesick. She has lived in Los Angeles for three years, is married to an American and is cast in mainly American-produced films.
"I do miss England," she says. "I miss a lot about it and I've been distant from it for a while because of work. I have to adopt this nomadic sort of existence."
Her special longings include "afternoons in the pub and the sense of humour and irreverence".
Although she has frequently played Americans in films, she finds that off-screen the US pronunciations of certain words sometimes still trip her up. "In a restaurant if I ask for water they never understand me and I have to say 'warder'," she giggles. "Then, if they ask me, would I like some 'warder' and I say 'go on, then', they think I'm being rude and want them to go away."
Life is as near perfect as it can be for the 29-year-old since she married the comedy actor John Krasinski, one of the co-stars of the American version of The Office, on the estate of their friend George Clooney on Italy's Lake Como, in July 2008.
She wants to share her happiness but has an English reserve when it comes to talking about her private life. Then, reticence put aside for a moment, she enthuses: "It's just all-encompassingly great! It's fantastic! Everything about him is fantastic!"
Blunt has finished a round of interviews and appearances for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and has another romantic comedy, The Five-Year Engagement, due out today.
In it she portrays Violet, an academic who becomes engaged to a chef (Jason Segel), but circumstances keep cropping up to prevent their wedding from taking place. As time passes, they learn whether they have what it takes to keep their relationship alive.
"It's funny and bawdy and what I love about it is that it has a real heart to it," Blunt says. "It's about a real relationship, although the situations the poor couple find themselves in are kind of ludicrous and heightened because it's a movie and it's comedy. It's about two characters who are flawed, kind of messy and awkward, but they're madly in love and trying to find their way in the world, and that's what I really responded to."
She recently played a part in another engagement by introducing her older sister, Felicity, to the actor Stanley Tucci, with whom she co-starred in The Devil Wears Prada. Felicity and Tucci are now engaged to be married.
The once shy and stammering actress now talks with authority and confidence and is no longer terrified at the thought of a red carpet. Her first film, the dark My Summer of Love in 2004, won her the British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer and is still, she says, the only one of her films she recommends people see.
One of four children of an actress mother and a barrister father, Blunt was born and raised in the stockbroker belt of Roehampton on the outskirts of London.
Blunt began appearing in school plays at the age of 12 because she discovered that acting helped her lose her stammer, not out of any sort of ambition for the stage or screen. "I started stuttering when I was about seven and it was a very anguishing thing to go through," she says. "People consider people who stutter to be autistic or have some sort of learning difficulty but that is very often not the case. It's hereditary and genetic and it runs in my family, predominantly in boys, but I got it and I had that gene. It's something you can outgrow but the sad truth is that some people can't, and it can follow people throughout their adult lives, so I was very lucky to outgrow it.
"It started to get a lot better when I was 14 or 15 and what helped me a lot was taking an acting class, because I found it a very liberating experience to be someone else on stage and talk in a different voice that wasn't my own. It was miraculous how I never stuttered on stage, and I know a lot of stutterers who are actors - Bruce Willis, James Earl Jones, they all stutter offstage and they never do when they're acting."
She went straight into West End theatre, appearing as Gwen Cavendish opposite Judi Dench in Sir Peter Hall's production of The Royal Family at Haymarket Theatre. Then, in 2002, she played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Chichester Festival.
After My Summer of Love and a Golden Globe win for her part in the television drama Gideon's Daughter, she made her scene-stealing Hollywood debut in the role of the arrogant assistant to Meryl Streep's dragon-lady fashion magazine editor in The Devil Wears Prada.
She showed up briefly with Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson's War, appeared in The Jane Austen Book Club, picked up several critics' group awards and a Golden Globe for her role as The Young Victoria, co-starred in The Wolfman, Gulliver's Travels and The Adjustment Bureau and has just finished filming Arthur Newman, Golf Pro with Colin Firth - "my new favourite actor", she says, laughing.
She has two other films - Looper, a time-travel thriller, and Your Sister's Sister, a comedy-drama - awaiting release.
While she is a fan of The Office, Blunt has no intention of ever making a guest appearance on it with her husband the way Brad Pitt did for Jennifer Aniston on Friends. "The Office is very much based in reality and it would destroy it somewhat if people would think, 'Oh, that's John Krasinski's wife playing the pizza delivery girl' or something. I just don't want to because it's John's deal and you don't want to let it become too pally and incestuous by creeping up on each other's sets."
Although now firmly established on Hollywood's A-list, Blunt has managed to remain refreshingly funny, down-to-earth and self- deprecating in a singularly English way, refusing to take Hollywood life too seriously, although she says: "I love LA - it's what you make of it."
Then she adds with a conspiratorial smile: "But I still get back to England whenever I can."
The Blunt file
- First job Appearing in the musical Bliss at the age of 17 at the 2000 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
- Favourite clothes Skinny jeans and boots
- Favourite film Jaws
- Last book read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- On being an actress “You feel very much like a puppet, but it had been what I was accustomed to – so you just get on with it and try to find something that rings true.”
- On why she is often cast as the bad girl “I have sly eyes. When I was in school they always said, ‘Emily can never be elected Head Girl because you never know what she’s thinking.’?”
- On performing period-drama dialogue “I mean, you try to make it as real as possible but when you have lines such as: ‘The fallen eagle is Caesar; the vulture, Octavius, and there is one, yet to be decided, who will betray them all.’ And you’re just like, ‘great, how am I going to make that work’?”
- On accepting her Golden Globe in 2007 without a written speech “The Globes night was a frenzy: I hadn’t written anything. I looked down at the audience and Jack Nicholson was staring up at me and I couldn’t even remember what my bloody name was.”
- On her parents, enthusiastic gardeners “I’ve never shovelled mud before, but I should.”